Thursday, December 21, 2017
(Photo from 2015)
The City of Memphis has been trying to remove this statue for a while. They have been looking for a legal solution, so they sold Health Springs Park to a private company, then the new private owners removed the Forrest statue.
Read the story here.
Here is my write-up from 2015 when the statue removal talks became prominent:
Disclaimer: Recently, everything that is associated with Nathan Bedford Forrest or the Confederacy in general has become controversial. I take no sides in the matter, but I am documenting this for the historical and newsworthy nature.
By now, most people know that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a general in the Civil War for the Confederate Army. Then after the war, he became a leader for the Klan. Forrest stated a desire to be buried among his troops. Upon his death in 1877, he was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis.
At the turn of the century, the Sons of Confederate Veterans wanted a more prominent tribute to General Forrest. In 1905, the bodies of Forrest and his wife Mary were re-interred at this park. Atop the graves was this monument and equestrian statue by the E. Gruet Jeune Foundry in Paris. The park was named Forrest Park. Today, the site is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The existence of this park and statue has not set well with several leaders of the Memphis community. In 2013, this park along with Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park were renamed. Today, this park is known as Health Sciences Park after the UT campus next door.
With the recent horrific Charleston Church shootings, there has been a renewed intensity in removing public tributes to Forrest and other Confederate leaders. On July 7, 2015, the Memphis City Council voted unanimously to exhume the Forrest family and move them and the statue to another location. (They probably would be moved back to Elmwood Cemetery or the highest bodder.)
The legal maneuvering doesn't stop there. After the city finalizes their removal, then the city has to officially file a lawsuit in probate court. At that point, the Forrest descendants will also appear in court, and they will fight to keep everything the way it is.
A couple of other notes. There is a rumor that the city really has a desire to expand the UT Health Sciences Campus onto this park ground and perhaps that is their real motivation. Also someone had spray painted the other side with [Edited] the KKK; while the graffiti was cleaned, it was still readable. If this does get moved, I am sure I will photograph it at the new location as well.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Originally Built in 1936 and reopened in 2014, the Cordell Hull Bridge crosses the Cumberland River in Carthage, TN.
Work on the bridge began in 1934 and is named after the former US Secretary of State Cordell Hull who lived in the area. The bridge is a 3 span continuous truss at a length of 1412 ft. with the main span over the river at 316 ft. The southwest side of the bridge reaches highway US70N which runs along a bluff near the river. The northwest side intersects with Main St. near the city's central business district. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
The bridge was closed in 2007 when a routine TDOT inspection found the superstructure was in critical condition. Repairs began in August 2011 and they replaced all of the concrete bridge deck and guard rails. The remaining truss, lattice work and rivets were preserved with blast cleaning and then painted white. (It had been green.) The bridge reopened on July 2, 2014.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Thursday, September 7, 2017
In downtown Chattanooga, TN, located inside the northern terminal for the free electric shuttle, known as CARTA, is a series of 7 3D art / paintings focusing on local attractions. This image represents many of the attractions on lookout mountain, such as Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the incline railway, but also features some of the sights in the St. Elmo community at the bottom. The spikes were added to prevent birds from perching there.
Here are links to all seven images, if you want to see the others.
Bluff View Arts District
The Electric Shuttle
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Located in Hilltop-Rosenwald Park in Smyrna, this community center was built to look identical to the Rosenwald School that had been at this location decades earlier. The park is full of markers discussing local African-American history.
Julius Rosenwald was the owner and president of Sears, Roebuck & Co. and established the philanthropic Rosenwald Fund. This fund was used to build schools in under-served African-American communities in the south. From 1917 and into the 30's, the fund helped build 354 schools. Very few of these schools still remain. For more info on these schools: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenwald_School
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
This is Tipton County's third courthouse, and the second to be located in the middle of Covington's town square. Finished in 1889-90, it was designed by the McDonald Brothers for $24,500. The north side was at the time considered the main entrance as it leads into the grand lobby, but while I was here, more people used the south side. Both entrances have an awning held up by four columns, although the one on the south side has only been there 2 or 3 decades. The south side also has a sidewalk that leads up to and around a Confederate statue.
I was here on a Saturday morning and they had classic rock music playing the whole time I was there. There were also wreaths on the doors even though it was the first week in November, so I'll let you decide if that's a good or a bad thing.
This courthouse originally had a nice clock tower. However, in 1909 a tornado came through and damaged the tower and the roof. The county hoped to repair the damage at some point, so they placed scaffolding around the tower for a long time. They put off the repairs for while to the point that the roof was close to caving in so in 1928 they removed the tower so they could repair the roof and it's been without the tower ever since.
Monday, September 4, 2017
Happy Labor Day! Here's a scenic overlook that you can visit today.
Tater Knob is a mountain in Smith County. At the top is an observation deck which provides a scenic overlook of Cordell Hull Lake and Dam.
According to Wikipedia:
Cordell Hull Lake is a lake in the Cumberland River in north-central Tennessee, about forty miles east of Nashville, in the vicinity of Carthage. It covers approximately 12,000 acres.
Cordell Hull Dam impounding the Cumberland River was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers between May 1963 and November 1973 for navigation, hydroelectric power generation, and recreation. The dam is concrete and earthen gravity structure, 87 feet high (above streambed), with a generator capacity of 100 megawatts. It impounds 259,100 acre feet at normal maximum pool, with a maximum flood storage of 310,900 acre feet.
Both are named for Cordell Hull, former United States Secretary of State.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
This church is located 1/4 mile north of US64 in Belvidere, TN (in Franklin County) along Owl Hollow Rd. In 1873, the church was founded by Swiss-German settlers as the German Reformed Church and was the first such church in Tennessee. The church became the center of Swiss culture in this area which was noted for its advanced agriculture techniques. A 1934 union created the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1957, this denomination merged with the Congregational Christian Church to form the United Church of Christ.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
This brick railroad depot in Tuscumbia, Al was built in 1888 by the Memphis & Charleston Railroad which became a part of Southern Railway. Memphis is 145.4 miles away and Chattanooga is 164.6 miles away. Known as the Fifth Street Station, Southern eventually abandoned this passenger station a few miles away to accommodate the entire Shoals area. The depot is now being restored to its original condition and has become a museum.
Friday, September 1, 2017
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Located along highway U.S. 129. Today, anyone who rides along the Tail of the Dragon will see it.
Flickr user tnserose contacted me and told me that her grandfather owned this barn. How cool!
This is now one of 87 different Rock City Barns I have photographed and uploaded to Flickr in my Rock City Barns set. People often ask me how I've found so many of them. I have drawn from many resources such as books and web sites and sometimes luck, but there's not really one "go to" place to find them all. Well, now on my website, I have tried to create a one stop source for the locations of all of the barns I've been to. On my Map of Rock City Barns page, I have plotted each barn on a Google Map.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
According to the marker:
Robert Penn Warren - 1905-1989
A native of Guthrie, Warren was one of the nation's most prolific writers, a world-renowned man of letters. Graduate of Vanderbilt Univ., summa cum laude, 1925; member of the Fugitives (writers group). Rhodes scholar at Oxford, 1928-1930; and twice a Guggenheim Fellow. He was professor of English at La. State, Minnesota, and Yale universities.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
This 4200 pound bell was put in the clock tower of the courthouse when the courthouse was rebuilt following the 1900 fire. During the 1999 tornado, the bell came crashing to the ground and they decided to place it on the plaza grounds instead of putting it back int he reconstructed tower. It was built by the MC Shane Bell Foundry of Baltimore, MD in 1900.
Monday, August 28, 2017
The Caney Fork and Western Railroad (CFWR) is a shortline railroad operating since 1983 from a connection with CSX at Tullahoma to McMinnville, TN, 61 miles along old NCStL tracks. Currently the railroad is a subsidiary of Ironhorse Resources. Principal commodities include lumber, steel, fertilizer, grain, propane, and carbon black, generating approximately 1,350 annual carloads. This caboose is seen parked at their main office in McMinnville.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
This Episcopal church was built in 1887 with a style similar to a 19th Century English parish church. The cost for building the church was $6,000 and was donated by Governor John C. Brown who lived at Colonial Hall on the same block. Today, the church building is on the National Register of Historic Places, significant for its architecture.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
This quite thorough marker is located at the Stewart County Courthouse in Dover, TN.
You'll need to pull up the photo in original size if you want to attempt to read it. It's a map of the entire county and where to find all of the historic iron furnaces.
Friday, August 25, 2017
This Mockingbird Statue was placed at Shelby Park in honor of the park's 100th birthday in 2012. Lawrence Argent created the artwork out of black Chinese Granite and Stainless Steel. The Mockingbird is one of Tennessee's State Symbols as the official state bird.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Favorite Old Church Hymns recorded by The Colonel's Mandolin Band for the glorification of Christ.
This vintage record album was seen at the mini-museum inside of the first KFC, otherwise known as Sanders Cafe, in Corbin, KY. Personally, I prefer the beauty of the human voice, but I bet I would find this album quite interesting. More than anything, just seeing this reminds me how the times have changed. Today, is there any well-known fast food chain other than Chik-Fil-A that would attempt such a recording?
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
The small southern town of Whitwell made national headlines when a small school project grew into a major tribute to tolerance and a remembrance for the millions who died in Nazi concentration camps.
Whitwell is a small town in Marion County, TN. After the coal mines closed, the area became quite poor. What happened next may help change the perception of what rural life in the south is all about.
Without any indication of what was to come, it started simply enough in 1998 in a Whitwell Middle School History class discussing World War II. The teacher discussed how six million Jews were slaughtered in the Nazi camps and a student asked how big Six Million is. In a town of just a little over one thousand people, it's hard to imagine just how big six million really is. One student doing research discovered that people from Norway wore paper clips as a symbol of resistance against the Nazis.
The teacher thought it would be an interesting exercise to see if they could gather a few paper clips as a small sampling of how big six million could be. The students began a letter writing campaign asking various people to donate paper clips to the project. After a few thousand had come in, some reporters came to visit the school to see what was going on. Those reporters told about the school's project and told the story nationally. A couple of years after they had started, over 29 Million paper clips had been sent to the school.
The school began to ponder what they should do with all of the paper clips. A couple of Jewish reporters who stayed in contact with the school searched Germany and found a vintage rail car which had been used to transport Jewish captives to the camps. The railcar was transported by boat to Baltimore and CSX delivered the car to Chattanooga in 2001.
Many students and townspeople came together to make the memorial site a long-lasting tribute. 11 million of the paper clips were placed inside the rail car, remembering not only the Jews but all of the other groups that were also killed in the Nazi camps. This memorial was dedicated on Nov. 9, 2001.
A documentary was filmed about the project, a full length movie titled "Paper Clips." I highly recommend everyone interested in this memorial should see that film.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Cheatham Lock & Dam is downstream from Ashland City along the Cumberland River in Cheatham County.
From the US Army Corps of Engineers website:
Cheatham Lock is located at Mile 148.6 on the Cumberland River in Cheatham County, Tennessee and is approximately 10 miles northwest of Ashland City, Tenn. Cheatham Lock is open to pass navigation traffic 24 hours-a-day, 365 days a year.
The 67-mile reservoir created by Cheatham Dam provides Nashville and middle Tennessee with a stable water supply and access to the entire Mississippi River system and the Intracoastal Waterway and plays an integral part in various commodities being transported to the region by water.
Cheatham Lock and Dam was authorized by Congress in 1946 as a navigation project to enhance the development of the Cumberland River Basin. Construction on the Lock was begun in 1949. Cheatham Lock was opened to navigation traffic on August of 1951. The lock chamber is 800-foot long and 110-foot wide. During normal lake levels, the lock will lift a boat 26-foot from the river below the dam to the lake above the dam. The lock releases over 17 million gallons of water each time is emptied.
Due to geological conditions in the area, the site selected for construction presented unique challenges on designing the project. This is the only lock in the Nashville District that was designed to flood; the lock walls had to be built according to the elevations of the surrounding land. Thus, create a design so that flood waters could flow over the structure with minimal damage when waters receded.
The lock has been submerged on several occasions, but the historical record-breaking flood of May 2010 submerged the lock and operations building in water almost fifteen feet deep. This far exceeded the designed limits for the structure and caused the Nashville District to perform a complete electrical overhaul and hydraulic rehab of the lock. Temporary repairs and clean-up were made and the lock was able to reopen to navigation traffic under restricted operation approximately 14 days after the waters receded. It was the middle of June 2010 before the lock returned to 24 hour operations.
Monday, August 21, 2017
Happy eclipse day!
June 5, 2012 was the last time I tried to photograph the sun. On that day, the planet Venus came between us and the sun. If Venus was a lot bigger, I guess you could call this an eclipse, but the sun was so bright that you couldn't see this unless you had a solar filter. Since it's not an eclipse, the Astronomy term is Transit of Venus.
If you think a solar eclipse is rare, the Transit of Venus will not happen again until 2117. However, there will be a Transit of Mercury on Nov 11, 2019, but it will not be visible in the United States.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Along the Lookout Mountain Scenic Highway (TN148) is a spot where the street crosses over Chattanooga's historic Incline Railroad. Along that bridge is a pedestrian scenic overlook. The parking spaces for this overlook are provided by Mountain Memories, a gift shop.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
My wife and I were travelling to Woodbury, TN one Saturday afternoon in the fall. We stopped at a restaurant on the town square, and while we were eating, a bunch of classic cars pulled up to the square and a car show broke out. A friend from town says these shows are frequent in Woodbury.
The Car in the photo is a Camaro Z28. 2017 is the 50th year of the Camaro.
Friday, August 18, 2017
During Cash's lifetime, his museum was located at his business office in Hendersonville, TN and was known as "House of Cash." This modern museum is one of the top museums for country music fans in Nashville where it is located along 3rd Ave. in downtown. This neon sign was not here on my previous walk through the area in the Spring of 2015
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Tracks were first laid through Germantown by the Memphis & Charleston Railroad in the 1850's. This depot was built by Southern Railway as a replica in 1948 to recreate the depot that was here in 1868.
On the front of the building is a plaque that reads "Restoration by Heritage Woman's Club 1986." Today, the building houses the offices for the Tennessee Shakespeare Company.
Monday, August 14, 2017
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Rugby is a small community along the Cumberland Plateau in Morgan County, founded by British Immigrants in 1880. The Rugby Colony was designed to be a Utopian community, but the design failed in less than a decade. Still a few townspeople and their descendants lived in the area over the next several decades. In the 1960s, residents, friends and descendants of Rugby began restoring the original design and layout of the community, preserving surviving structures and reconstructing others.
The Christ Church Episcopal was established on October 5, 1880, and initially used the original Rugby schoolhouse for services. The current building was built in the Carpenter Gothic style in 1887 by Cornelius Onderdonk, who constructed many of the original buildings in Rugby, and consecrated by Episcopal bishop Charles Quintard in 1888. The church's alms basin was designed by English carpenter Henry Fry, who had previously done work for various churches in the London area. The church's reed organ, built in 1849, is one of the oldest in the United States. The Christ Church congregation has met here regularly since 1887.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
This is an important spot for railroads in the south as all of the CSX trains that run from Nashville to Chattanooga cross through here. I can't find any details on how old the old bridge is, but the river was first crossed here by NCStL in 1852.
The bridges here cross the Tennessee River. One of the reasons this spot was picked is there is an approx 1000 ft. island 2/3 of the way to the other side at this spot. The tracks cross the wider 1000 ft. portion of the river with what you see in the foreground, and then there is a smaller 500 ft. lift bridge in the background.
The lift bridge was placed here in 1981 from unused train line elsewhere. It's rather inaccessible unless you're a railroad employee who takes a gravel road on the other side.
Unfortunately, the pedestrian bridge clearly marks it's for employees only, which is a shame.
I'm not sure how new the new bridge on the left is. It's at least newer than 1995. On GreenFrog.com, (a great website for railfan videos) they have a CSX video from Chattanooga to Nashville, filmed in the mid 90's and featuring the bridges here before the new one was built.
Friday, August 11, 2017
Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area is located in the town of Sequatchie, TN in Marion County. The calf-deep pure waters of Owen Spring Branch flow out of the mouth of the cave. When the water levels are low, people have explored about a mile into the cave. There are also a couple of endangered species that live here, the Caddisfly and the Royal Snail.
The City of Sequatchie was developed because it is close to the waters here. In the 1850's, the landowners gave the land to the city. In the late 1920's (I think) the area was opened as a roadside park complete with a couple of concrete picnic tables and large boulders around the drive. (The driveway to the park is along Valley View Highway which I believe was an original segment of the Dixie Highway in the area.) While the park is still maintained today by the county Highway Department, it is also listed as a State Natural Area. On the day of my visit in the Winter of 2013, there was a posted sign that the entering the cave was off limits as all state owned caves are closed indefinitely as researchers study the White nose Syndrome of bats.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Ledford Mill is an 1884 gristmill listed on the National register of Historic Places. The nearest city is Tullahoma, sometimes listed as Wartrace, but is in the corner of Moore County, so it's technically in Lynchburg. Visually, it's an unusual setting for a Middle Tennessee Mill. The road leads right up to the door on an upper floor of this mill in the narrow valley.
Mills need a place to harness the power of water, and are usually situated at a waterfall or a dam. This place has both. An old large metal pipe runs from the top of the dam of Shipman's Creek to the mill. a path with a wooden pedestrian bridge leads to a bench where you can sit and watch the 20 foot waterfalls in a peaceful setting. With the lake above the dam, you can see the fish which are considered pets at the mill.
Like most gristmills, it went out of business decades ago. However, the mill was restored in 1996 by innkeepers John & Mildred Spear who operate the mill as a three room bed & breakfast. During business hours, the mill is open as a gift shop / antique store. Visitors are allowed to look around but when the paying overnight guests arrive, they get the area to themselves.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Located in South Knoxville at a building along the Chapman Highway that is (or was) their building. At the top of the building was a long sign with their slogan "Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee." Part of that sign fell off and you can see what's left of the old sign: "Take Home..."
In 2017, Kern's Bakery where this is located was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. Sara Lee operated here from 1989 to 2012.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
When the Nashville Sounds announced plans to build a new baseball stadium First Tennessee Park, they picked the site of Nashville first baseball stadium.
Sulphur Dell was the site of baseball for nearly 100 years. For over 60 years, it was the home of the Nashville Vols minor league baseball team. Before the stadium permanently closed in 1963, it had been longest continually used site for baseball in America. This fact was even commemorated in the scaffolding sign outside the ballpark which can be seen in the photo at this link:
At the new First Tennessee Park, which opened at the same site over 50 years later, they pay tribute to the site's history. This sign recreates the iconic sign of the original. It is located on the back of the green center field hitter's backdrop, so if you attend a game and walk all the way around the stadium, you can see this too.
Monday, August 7, 2017
This bridge was originally built in 1901 by the Tennessee Central Railway as they extended their rail line from Nashville west to Clarksville. Around 1990, the tracks west of Ashland City were abandoned and soon many people wanted to convert the old rail-bed and this bridge to a pedestrian trail. With a partnership between the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Cheatham County Parks Department, the Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail was built and it utilized the old bridge. (The trail parallels the Cumberland River but actually crosses Sycamore Creek.) The iron Parker through truss bridge with a length of 550 ft. was built by American Bridge Co.
Order this as a Post Card!
Order this as a Poster!
For other views of this bridge: www.flickr.com/search/?sort=relevance&text=cumberland...
For the full story: www.railstotrails.org/news/recurringfeatures/trailmonth/a...
Sunday, August 6, 2017
This is the "Seattle Wheel" Ferris wheel at the 2006 Williamson County Fair, but back for the 2017 fair. It is owned and Operated by Drew Operations, but was designed for the 1960's Seattle World's Fair. If you've ever seen video from that world's fair, you've seen one like this before. It is over 90 ft. tall.
Friday, June 30, 2017
Desoto State Park is located atop Lookout Mountain in DeKalb County, AL. On this summer day, it was a small trickle. Water appears to flow out of the middle of a rock down some stones into a small stream. The cascade is easily accessible as the destination at the end of the Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
The town of Auburntown in Cannon County, might be small, but they know how to have a good time. They are best known for their two big annual Fish Frys and their Red Apple Days. They have smaller fish fry events most every weekend through the summer and fall, and on this day a local band was performing from the front porch of this old mansion, while many of the townsfolk sat on either side of the street (TN145) in their lawn chairs.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
There are two well known Tennessee Whiskey Distilleries in Tennessee. While Jack Daniels is certainly more famous, they also have a more crowded parking lot and a longer wait to go on a tour. On a beautiful summer day on a Friday early afternoon, there were three of us along the tour.
George Dickel moved to the area and bought the local Cascade Hollow whiskey in 1884. He ran the operation until 1888 and died in 1894. Then, Dickel's wife and her brother who was also an operating partner ran the business until U.S. Prohibition caused them to shut down.
Fast forward to 1958 and the brand's rightsholder decided to reopen the distillery. Their new distillery was down the road and downstream from the original location. (The original distillery is still there and on the National Register of Historic Places but it is not open to the public or viewable from the street.) For the full story:
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
This statue by Sculptor Steve Shields of Captain Thomas Ryman is located in downtown Nashville in front of the modern entrance to Ryman Auditorium. Ryman donated the money to build the Union Gospel Tabernacle, which was named in his honor after his death.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Glen Echo, also known as Harpeth Hall, is a property in Franklin, TN that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It is a former plantation house that is now the centerpiece and administrative office of the Battle Ground Academy's Upper School campus.
It was designed and/or built c. 1828 by Joseph Ruff for Williamson County's first Circuit Judge Thomas Stuart. The structure includes Federal architecture. The NRHP listing was for an area of 14 acres with just one contributing building.
It was one of about thirty surviving antebellum "significant brick and frame residences" built in Williamson County that were centers of slave plantations. It is one of several of these located "on the rich farmland surrounding Franklin"; others were the Dr. Hezekiah Oden House, the Franklin Hardeman House and the Samuel Glass House, the Thomas Brown House, the Stokely Davis House, the Beverly Toon House and the Samuel S. Marten House.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
The Cowan Depot is wood frame and built in 1904 for the NC&StL railway. When in use, it was originally on the other side of the still-in-use-by-CSX tracks but moved further away to its current location in 1976. It's built in a railroad Gothic style architecture and has been repainted to the original green and yellow colors. The building is in the process of renovation. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Every year, the town has a Summer Weekend festival called Cowan Depot Days with the goal of raising money to further restore the station.
Cowan is located on the historic line that runs from Nashville to Chattanooga and is perhaps best known by railfans as the last stop before ascending Cumberland Mountain and the picturesque but almost inaccessible Cumberland Mountain Tunnel entrance. CSX keeps pusher cars on hand to help trains make the incline to the top.
Steam Locomotive #1 has been the highlight of the Cowan Railroad Museum for many years. It's a Columbia Type 2-4-2. It was built by Porter in 1920 as a tenderless Tank style locomotive and converted with a small homemade tender and had the saddle tank removed. The cab used to contain a small coal bunker. The Engine was functional around Charleston, SC until 1964 when it was sold to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Then, was sold to the Cowan museum in 1979.
To see my other photos from the Depot Museum, look here:
Thursday, June 22, 2017
For years, motorists around Chattanooga have seen a Big Rock with the words Big Rock painted on it. This is the story.
During the golden age of automobile travel, Joe Light opened a motel along Cummings Highway. This highway is located at the base of Lookout Mountain near the Tennessee River. Until I-24 paralleled the old highway, it was the only way that connected the city to the west, which meant lots of travelers passed through here. The most notable geologic landmark at this site was the Big Rock. Thus, the motel was called Big Rock Court and "Big Rock Court" was painted on the rock. Even though it has been several decades, the makeshift sign is still legible.
Big Rock Court wasn't the best motel around. It gained the reputation by the locals as a den of gambling. After a shooting, a police raid finally led to the Court's demise.
This spot was still a prime location for tourists, so in 1977 the Super Water Slide opened for business. Advertised as the largest water slide in the world, the fiberglass slide zig-zagged down the hillside. The popularity faded until the summer hot-spot went out of business in 1989 and the slide relocated to Tullahoma where I find no record of it. With no use, this property became covered in kudzu.
Local conservationist John C. Wilson let the group now known as the Lookout Mountain Land Trust to purchase the land and turn it into a park. Trash was removed, overgrowth was cut down and the park named after Wilson has opened. You can read Wilson's story on preserving the park in this article. Today, you can hike a trail, have a picnic, climb the old stairs to where Joe Light's house was, or get a better view of the Big Rock Court sign that beckons motorists to this day.